Friday 23 February 2024

Book Review: Licence to Rock: Jawsome 2 by R. J. Timmis

Licence to Rock: Jawsome 2 


R. J. Timmis

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Imprint: Albert Street Books
Series: Jawsome #2 
Publication date: 20th February 2024
Genre: Junior Fiction / Humour
Pages: 272
RRP: $15.99AU (paperback)
Source: courtesy of the publisher

Review: Licence to Rock: Jawsome 2

Rebecca Timmis from Mertales fame now has a new series for kids that like a little more danger and a little more action in their books.
Jawsome 2 - Licence to Rock is so much fun, pure escapism for kids.
Two books in one! In the first story Finley and his band need to foil an evil plot by mean anglerfish who intend to shrink the sun.
In the second story Finley must overcome his fear of playing the wrong notes and slam out a tune to save the entire town from turning into zombies and being taken over by killer whales.
Lots of fun and action. The play on words will be enjoyed by the children and the adults reading to them. With many of the words resonating more with parent readers. ie: Cosmopolifin magazine, Michael Jackfin, Stranger Fins and Beverly Shells 90210.
Finley and crew are very modern, civilised fish with phones, computers and internet.
Extensively illustrated throughout, Jawsome really is awesome! If you like a bit of silly fun wrapped around fast-paced action and danger, you will love the Jawsome series. 

Recommended age 6 - 10 years

My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Sunday 18 February 2024

Book Review: Team Trouble! by Eddie Woo & Dave Hartley

 Team Trouble!


Eddie Woo & Dave Hartley

Illustrated by Mitch Vane

Imprint: Pan Australia 
Publication date: 28th June 2022
Series: Whodunnit, Eddie Woo? #2
Genre: Junior fiction / Middle Grade / Mystery
Pages: 204
RRP: $14.99AU (paperback)
Source: Won 

Review: Team Trouble!

Eddie Woo Super Sleuth is ready for action and mystery. With a mind for maths and a nose for adventure, he is about to skateboard into ... danger.

Eddie and his friends Rusty and DT are back in Team Trouble with more messages to decipher and codes to crack.
In this book Eddie and friends must find a way to stop the nursing home from closing down to make way for a coal seam gas plant. The team uses maths to decipher a coded message left by one of the nursing home residents.
Lots of action and plenty of danger as the trio come across a bird smuggling operation run by money hungry developers. When the trio gets kidnapped they are rescued by the most unlikeliest people.
While trying to thwart the baddies the team must also practice for the Triple Threat Quest which involves singing, maths and skateboarding, with the best team being crowned the winners.

Plenty of humour and great sketches by Mitch Vane make Team Trouble an engaging read.
Middle graders will enjoy the team challenge, sense of adventure and danger.

My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommended age: 7+ years

Friday 9 February 2024

Book Review: The Gruffalo Special Edition by Julia Donaldson

 The Gruffalo

25 years special edition


Julia Donaldson

illustrated by Alex Scheffler
Imprint: Macmillan Children's Books
Publication date: 9th January 2024
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Pages: 32
RRP: $14.99AU (paperback) 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: The Gruffalo

Join Mouse as he comes face to face with a fox, an owl, a snake and  .... oh help! Oh no! A Gruffalo!
The Gruffalo is an enchanting story about a very clever little  mouse who outsmarts his predators.
What is better than a copy of The Gruffalo?
A copy of the 25 years special edition with a shiny gold cover!! 

It's the same enchanting story that we have read and loved in a shiny new edition for the next generation to enjoy.

Comes with bonus material from Julia and Axel. Plus ideas for Gruffalo cupcakes and how to make the full cast of characters from wooden spoons. The last page features music and words to the Gruffalo song and a QR code to hear the song.

The Gruffalo has become a classic in children's picture books.

My rating 5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Recommended age: 3+

Friday 2 February 2024

Book Review: Smoke & Mirrors by Barry Jonsberg

 Smoke & Mirrors


Barry Jonsberg

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication date: 30th January 2024
Genre: Young Adult / Junior Fiction
Pages: 272
RRP: $19.99AU (paperback)
Source: courtesy of the publisher

Review: Smoke & Mirrors 

Barry Jonsberg writes heartfelt stories that cut to the core of serious issues and Smoke & Mirrors is no exception. With themes of fractured families, alcoholism, cancer and voluntary assisted dying Smoke & Mirrors could be a sombre read but Jonsberg adds humour to lighten the story.  
Grace cares about two things, magic and her grandmother. They share a sharp sense of humour and Gran can give back as much as Grace dishes out.
Grace doesn't trust anyone and when Simon offers to help her become a social media star and earn money from her magic act she doesn't trust him either but is prepared to take his help, at arm's length.
Smoke & Mirrors is a heartfelt story about a teen trying to find her place in the world. Grace's family have suffered a tragedy and instead of helping each other they have each turned inward blocking their loved ones out. 
When Gran is diagnosed with a terminal illness Grace volunteers to be her carer.
Reading Smoke & Mirrors as an adult I found the story heartbreaking, however I feel the targeted age group would connect more with the magic, how amazing and determined Grace is and how restorative her friendship with Simon is.
I loved the way Jonsberg revealed the twists subtly, a few words spoken, easily missed.
The publisher's age range is 10 - 14 years. I might be a little cautious but with the topics explored I have recommended an age range of 12 -16 years. 
My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Saturday 13 January 2024

Book Review: The Bother with the Bonkillyknock Beast by Karen Foxlee

The Bother with the Bonkillyknock Beast:

Miss Mary-Kate Martin's Guide to Monsters #3


Karen Foxlee

Illustrated by Freda Chiu 

Publication date: 3rd January 2024 
Series: Miss Mary-Kate Martin's guide to Monsters #3
Genre: Middle Grade (Junior fiction)
Pages: 288
RRP: $15.99AU (paperback) 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: The Bother with the Bonkillyknock Beast

The Bother with the Bonkillyknock Beast is book 3 in the Miss Mary-Kate Martin's guide to Monsters Series.
Mary-Kate is looking forward to a nice quiet holiday with her grandmother in a nice quiet castle. What she doesn't know is her grandmother is taking her to a World Society of Monster Hunters conference.
The series revolves around the adventures of Mary-Kate Martin and her monster hunting family. Armed with her trusty notebook and a bag of lucky items Mary-Kate and new found friends Millicent and Simon embark on a quest to solve the mystery behind the ear-shattering howls and the break-in in the castle kitchen.

Foxlee challenges the ideas of good and evil as Mary-Kate endeavours to understand and save the Bonkillyknock Beast.
Exploration of themes such as friendship, courage, teamwork, anxiety, honesty and curiosity offers a captivating reading experience for young readers in this fast-paced and hair-raising story.

Mary-Kate is a young girl with anxiety issues who works hard to push past her fears using coping mechanisms she has put in order to calm herself.
" Mary-Kate closed her eyes. She needed quiet and calm and a neatly written list in a soothing colour."

It was fun to follow the three friends as they worked together to solve the mystery.

Readers of the series will love this new addition. Newcomers can rest assured it reads well as a standalone however once your young reader has finished they will be eager to obtain the previous two books.

Publisher recommended age 6 - 10 years

My rating 5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Friday 15 December 2023

Book Review: The Race is On (Wolf Girl #10) by Anh Do

 The Race Is On: Wolf Girl 10


Anh Do

Illustrated by Lachlan Creagh

Publisher: Allen & Unwin 
Publication date: 28th November 2023
Series: Wolf Girl #10
Genre: Children's Middle Grade
Pages: 224
RRP: $16.99AU (paperback) 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: The Race Is On 

The Race Is On opens straight where Sink Or Swim left off. Gwen and nine other contestants are about to start a grueling cross-country challenge with the winner having a wish granted.
The Race Is On is another faced-paced story filled with half and full-page visually engaging illustrations.
I liked that this story had a bit more substance which will have readers thinking and learning in a subtle way.
The Race Is On sees the nine contestants pitted against each other through a challenging, and at times life threatening, cross country run. Gwen always shows good sportsmanship but there are others that will do anything to win. When another contestant finds themself in serious trouble Gwen cannot turn her back and stops to help. The other contestants see this and begin to work as a team. But only one can win? During the course Gwen battles with this dilemma and also the question of what her wish will be if she wins. 
Gwen is a wonderful role model, considerate, forgiving and smart. The search for her parents continues as Gwen and her canine friends move on to a new adventure. 
Wolf Girl is a series that needs to be read in order as it is an ongoing story and there is no backstory included.
My rating 5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommended age 8 -12 years 
Other books by Anh Do I've reviewed:

Wednesday 8 November 2023

Book Review: The Impossible Secret of Lillian Velvet by Jaclyn Moriarty

 The Impossible Secret of Lillian Velvet


Jaclyn Moriarty

illustrated by Kelly Canby

Publisher: Allen & Unwin Children's
Publication date: 31st October 2023
Series: Kingdom and Empires #5
Genre: Middle Grade
Pages: 544
RRP: $22.99AU (Hardcover)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: The Impossible Secret of Lillian Velvet

The Impossible Secret of Lillian Velvet is an enchanting tale filled with magic, danger and unexpected twists. The plot is set out like a puzzle with different scenes appearing like random chapters and in a book and it isn't until the story nears its conclusion that it all comes together and makes perfect sense.

The Impossible Secret of Lillian Velvet is book 5 in the Kingdoms and Empires series and even though it is the first book I've read in the series there is plenty of backstory and rather than feeling lost it just made me want to rush out and buy the previous books. Which I did!

Featured throughout the book are beautiful, half and full page monochrome illustrations by the talented Kelly Canby.

Young readers will find Lillian Velvet intriguing, she has been raised by a cold, unloving and strict grandmother. Having never attended school, she has never spoken to or played with other children. Lillian is smart, kind and most of all obedient.
Lillian is given a jar of gold coins for her tenth birthday. The coins transport her to another time in another world. Lillian doesn't know why she is being transported to these places, all she knows is someone always needs help and she could never say no.
At 544 pages it is the perfect book to sink your teeth into. The short chapters make it easy to pick up and read just a few chapters at a time. It won't be read in a single night but I can assure you, your child will want to read it over and over.
The Kingdom and Empires series would make the perfect gift. They are not only fantastic reads, they look good too, making them a treasured addition to a child's bookshelf.
Jaclyn Moriarty is a truly gifted children's author who can weave a plot that is both complex yet simple to follow.
My rating 5/ 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

Book Review: Licence to Rock: Jawsome 2 by R. J. Timmis

Licence to Rock: Jawsome 2  by R. J. Timmis THERE'S AWESOME AND THEN THERE'S.....JAWSOME   Publisher: Allen & Unwin Imprint: Alb...